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  #1  
Old 08-15-2011, 06:05 AM
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Default John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

Conventional wisdom (the Jeff Ocheltree video and nearly everyone else) says to get a John Bonham style snare sound, the resonant head needs to be cranked. But I really don't agree. I think the reso needs to be fairly low, so the snare has a nice, full, open tone, like a conga. The best example I can give is when Bonham plays with his hands on the live and studio versions of Moby Dick. The snare always has a lot of tone, and I've never been able to reproduce that tone when I've cranked the reso, it just sounds thin with no bottom end. I use a drum dial, because I find it to be a helpful tool to create and replicate drum sounds, plus when people ask what I'm doing, I get to say "tympanic pressure." Anyway, my reso is a 75ish, and the batter is at 87. For those who don't use a Drum Dial, the reso side is, as I said, fairly loose. Just tight enough to get a clear tone. The batter kind of sings to me when it's tight enough, but my basic rule of thumb is this: Too tight, no tone. Too loose, no bite. It's another one of those "sweet spot" things hahaha! So what do you think?
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Old 08-15-2011, 06:55 AM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

Unfortunately, with the man dead there are precious few resources to go by.....what choice have we got but to accept the word of a few that were actually in the know? A looser snare reso goes against everything we've been told. I've gotta admit, the "Bonzo sound" in the Ocheltree vid sounds pretty convincing.
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:03 AM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

If you take a Ludwig Supra either depth, tune it pretty high top and bottom,then back it off top and bottom a couple or three times, and tension your snares just above sloppy and then just a bit tighter, you'll get it . I think you can get real close to Bonham snare land with almost any quality ten lug, 14," 5.5 or deeper snare. But if you go too deep then you're in Peter Criss territory.
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:07 AM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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Originally Posted by The Scorpio View Post
Conventional wisdom (the Jeff Ocheltree video and nearly everyone else) says to get a John Bonham style snare sound, the resonant head needs to be cranked. But I really don't agree. I think the reso needs to be fairly low, so the snare has a nice, full, open tone, like a conga. The best example I can give is when Bonham plays with his hands on the live and studio versions of Moby Dick. The snare always has a lot of tone, and I've never been able to reproduce that tone when I've cranked the reso, it just sounds thin with no bottom end. I use a drum dial, because I find it to be a helpful tool to create and replicate drum sounds, plus when people ask what I'm doing, I get to say "tympanic pressure." Anyway, my reso is a 75ish, and the batter is at 87. For those who don't use a Drum Dial, the reso side is, as I said, fairly loose. Just tight enough to get a clear tone. The batter kind of sings to me when it's tight enough, but my basic rule of thumb is this: Too tight, no tone. Too loose, no bite. It's another one of those "sweet spot" things hahaha! So what do you think?
How do the two heads compare in pitch? The drum dial numbers mean nothing to me because the two heads are of different thicknesses, thus will have different tympanic pressure when producing the same pitch.

I've found that snare drums tend to have more bottom end when the two heads complement each in pitch, and sound thin when they don't. Looser tension on the reso heads gives a more "snarey" sound while a tighter reso gives a more "drummy" sound. That's just been my experience. I believe that, unmic'ed especially, a tighter reso (within reason - you CAN overdo it!) will give more pop and projection. Those are just my observations.

I think the biggest key to Bonham's snare sound is that the batter head wasn't so tight that it lost all ring to it. It has plenty of ring, sustain, and overtones, which you lose when you tighten past a certain point.
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:10 AM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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Originally Posted by ambientgreg View Post
If you take a Ludwig Supra either depth, tune it pretty high top and bottom,then back it off top and bottom a couple or three times, and tension your snares just above sloppy and then just a bit tighter, you'll get it . I think you can get real close to Bonham snare land with almost any quality ten lug, 14," 5.5 or deeper snare. But if you go too deep then you're in Peter Criss territory.
Funny you should mention Peter Criss - on the "Alive" album, Peter used a shallower metal snare, and it actually sounds a lot like Bonham's in places. Maybe not as precisely tuned, certainly not as well recorded, but it's there.
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:15 AM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

Oh yeah no doubt the snare in video sounds incredible. But I think the Bonham section is a little deceiving. That particular mic setup is not gonna pick up a lot of the overtones we normally hear when tuning. My little conspiracy theory is that the reso side is tuned a lot lower than we've been led to believe, and we can't clearly hear it because of the mic setup. I think Mr. Ocheltree is merely trying to protect the sound that Bonham created. He says "the snare side was pitched way up." True. But it doesn't take a whole lot of tension to have a high "pitched" snare side head.
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:20 AM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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Originally Posted by IDDrummer View Post
How do the two heads compare in pitch? The drum dial numbers mean nothing to me because the two heads are of different thicknesses, thus will have different tympanic pressure when producing the same pitch.
I'm using my fundamental pitches here. The Batter is a G, and the reso is a G#
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:24 AM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

Your theory has prompted me to dig a bit deeper. As I stated, there's precious little available. I managed to find this little gem of an interview with Mick Hinton. He was on the scene a hell of a lot longer than Ocheltree.....unfortunately, he's gives us next to nothing on the snare drum, but the tom tuning seems consistent with Ocheltree's account (minus the felt strip in the bass drum, which I found interesting). But by all accounts the snare sound was something Bonzo preferred to sort out himself.

Here's what snippet Mick can give us on the tuning:

"We used Remo heads, (CS) black dots. It was always the 14"x6-1/2" metal snare. And I introduced the Gretsch 42-strand snare to him - I got hi to try it out and he loved it. There was no damping in the bass drum at all, no felt strip, just a Dr Scholl's moleskin patch (where the beater impacted). He tuned it up fairly high, but his great thing was the snare drum. That had to be absolutely spot on, so he tuned it himself. I'd take his snare drum down to the dressing room on its stand with a pair of stick. But I don't think he wamed up. They came on-stage and there was never any tuning up or anything, it was straight into the first number. Soon as he sat down he'd be off. He made sure the snare was tuned and I tuned the rest, mostly to his liking. I'd tune the bottom heads quite tight but I don't think I ever changed them. The top heads were slacker than the bottoms, but his sound was more to do with the way he played - it was nothing to do with me."

As lifted from this site: http://www.led-zeppelin.org/joomla/biographies/118
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:29 AM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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Originally Posted by Pocket-full-of-gold View Post
Your theory has prompted me to dig a bit deeper. As I stated, there's precious little available. I managed to find this little gem of an interview with Mick Hinton. He was on the scene a hell of a lot longer than Ocheltree.....unfortunately, he's gives us next to nothing on the snare drum, but the tom tuning seems consistent with Ocheltree's account (minus the felt strip in the bass drum, which I found interesting). But by all accounts the snare sound was something Bonzo preferred to sort out himself.

Here's what snippet Mick can give us on the tuning:

"We used Remo heads, (CS) black dots. It was always the 14"x6-1/2" metal snare. And I introduced the Gretsch 42-strand snare to him - I got hi to try it out and he loved it. There was no damping in the bass drum at all, no felt strip, just a Dr Scholl's moleskin patch (where the beater impacted). He tuned it up fairly high, but his great thing was the snare drum. That had to be absolutely spot on, so he tuned it himself. I'd take his snare drum down to the dressing room on its stand with a pair of stick. But I don't think he wamed up. They came on-stage and there was never any tuning up or anything, it was straight into the first number. Soon as he sat down he'd be off. He made sure the snare was tuned and I tuned the rest, mostly to his liking. I'd tune the bottom heads quite tight but I don't think I ever changed them. The top heads were slacker than the bottoms, but his sound was more to do with the way he played - it was nothing to do with me."

As lifted from this site: http://www.led-zeppelin.org/joomla/biographies/118
Interesting what he says there about the black dot heads - that seems to be refering to the Vistalite kit. And the funny thing about that is, in "The Song Remains the Same" video, you can clearly see that Bonham has a pillow or blankets in the bass drum, which is different than either Ocheltree or Hinton state. I guess he changed things up from time to time, like all of us.
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:32 AM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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Originally Posted by The Scorpio View Post
I'm using my fundamental pitches here. The Batter is a G, and the reso is a G#
That's kind of what I was thinking - the reso head is a bit higher pitched even though the tympanice pressure is lower. I think CDrums21 also came up with similar drum dial numbers for a Bonhamesque sound.
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:34 AM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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Originally Posted by IDDrummer View Post
Interesting what he says there about the black dot heads - that seems to be refering to the Vistalite kit. And the funny thing about that is, in "The Song Remains the Same" video, you can clearly see that Bonham has a pillow or blankets in the bass drum, which is different than either Ocheltree or Hinton state. I guess he changed things up from time to time, like all of us.
For sure. I also realise we're getting guys to draw on memories from long ago too. I know I find that task difficult myself when recalling exact details and I'm younger than either Hinton or Ocheltree. ;-)

I'm madly searching for pics of the green sparkle kit now though, as I'm sure I've seen the tell tale signs of a felt strip on the bass drum reso before.
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:42 AM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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Originally Posted by Pocket-full-of-gold View Post
Your theory has prompted me to dig a bit deeper. As I stated, there's precious little available. I managed to find this little gem of an interview with Mick Hinton. He was on the scene a hell of a lot longer than Ocheltree.....unfortunately, he's gives us next to nothing on the snare drum, but the tom tuning seems consistent with Ocheltree's account (minus the felt strip in the bass drum, which I found interesting). But by all accounts the snare sound was something Bonzo preferred to sort out himself.

Here's what snippet Mick can give us on the tuning:

"We used Remo heads, (CS) black dots. It was always the 14"x6-1/2" metal snare. And I introduced the Gretsch 42-strand snare to him - I got hi to try it out and he loved it. There was no damping in the bass drum at all, no felt strip, just a Dr Scholl's moleskin patch (where the beater impacted). He tuned it up fairly high, but his great thing was the snare drum. That had to be absolutely spot on, so he tuned it himself. I'd take his snare drum down to the dressing room on its stand with a pair of stick. But I don't think he wamed up. They came on-stage and there was never any tuning up or anything, it was straight into the first number. Soon as he sat down he'd be off. He made sure the snare was tuned and I tuned the rest, mostly to his liking. I'd tune the bottom heads quite tight but I don't think I ever changed them. The top heads were slacker than the bottoms, but his sound was more to do with the way he played - it was nothing to do with me."

As lifted from this site: http://www.led-zeppelin.org/joomla/biographies/118
Lol about Hinton being there longer than Ocheltree. I saw an interview on Youtube where Ocheltree said that Mr. Bonham didn't let him have too much free reign as far as tuning goes!!!

As far as the toms I totally agree with Hinton and Ocheltree. The bottom heads were definitely tighter.

But the snare is where I go a little mad scientist:) I've done experiments with the drum dial, tuning an ambassador snare side to a G, and then tuning an ambassador to a G. It doesn't take nearly as much tension to get the reso there.

Plus there's just that gut feeling, ya know? The first time I tuned the drum like I described earlier, it just felt right to me. The presence, the attack, feeling it hit me in the chest. It was love at first rimshot lol.
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:42 AM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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Originally Posted by IDDrummer View Post
Funny you should mention Peter Criss - on the "Alive" album, Peter used a shallower metal snare, and it actually sounds a lot like Bonham's in places. Maybe not as precisely tuned, certainly not as well recorded, but it's there.
Thats true. I was actually thinking more Alive II,"Shock Me" type sound. But with my Supra's,I almost can't escape a Bonham type sound . And I'm pretty into tweaking my tuning
but I am not a rigid by the book tuner and I really think people ought to play around with tuning more themselves and not treat all these videos and methods as gospel. But it's also in the drum and in that relaxed rim shot I think.
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:49 AM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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But the snare is where I go a little mad scientist:) I've done experiments with the drum dial, tuning an ambassador snare side to a G, and then tuning an ambassador to a G. It doesn't take nearly as much tension to get the reso there.
I'd bet London to a brick that's because the Ambassador is 10mil thick whilst the Ambassador Snare Side is only 3mil thick though.....they are not the same head and won't yeild anywhere near the same numbers on a DD.
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Old 08-15-2011, 08:04 AM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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I'd bet London to a brick that's because the Ambassador is 10mil thick whilst the Ambassador Snare Side is only 3mil thick though.....they are not the same head and won't yeild anywhere near the same numbers on a DD.
Definitely. I've seen and read where people are absolutely cranking the life out of their reso's to get "that" sound. Like 85-90 or higher on a DD. And although that sound can be cool, I don't believe it really capture's the Bonham-style tone.
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Old 08-15-2011, 08:49 AM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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Like 85-90 or higher on a DD. And although that sound can be cool, I don't believe it really capture's the Bonham-style tone.
I think I've seen those numbers thrown around too. Unfortunately, my mind goes blank when I read DD numbers. I've never used one and so really have no idea what's high, medium or low tension according to the dial.

I think that's put the crux of your argument into a little more perspective for me though. Do I take it that you're not disputing the statement that "Bonzo tuned his reso high" but in fact you don't agree with some of the numbers that you've seen thrown around forums?
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Old 08-15-2011, 09:07 AM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

To the OP and the theory of lower tension resos: I agree. I've been struggling with snare tuning for practically all of the 30 years I've been playing and in the past when I've thought my snare sound was missing something, I would automatically crank the snare side tighter, because that can loosen up over time and kill the sound.

But I've definitely been running into trouble over tightening and getting that thin and unsatisfying sound you describe, so lately (the past year or two) I've been more cognizant of over tightening the reso and will make sure that's not the case when troubleshooting a snare stubbornly out of its sweet spot. I'm lowering the tension of that head a lot more these days and getting much better and more consistent results.

No drum dial here, though. I may start with a Gatzen tuning but over the weeks that follow, I can get pretty far from that before I find something that knocks my socks off.
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Old 08-15-2011, 05:46 PM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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I think I've seen those numbers thrown around too. Unfortunately, my mind goes blank when I read DD numbers. I've never used one and so really have no idea what's high, medium or low tension according to the dial.

I think that's put the crux of your argument into a little more perspective for me though. Do I take it that you're not disputing the statement that "Bonzo tuned his reso high" but in fact you don't agree with some of the numbers that you've seen thrown around forums?
Right. Essentially, I believe that when Ocheltree says "pitched way up," he simply means the fundamental pitch, not the head tension. From experimentation, the two ways are extremely different, and most tend to think he meant high head tension. That is where I disagree completely.
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Old 08-15-2011, 05:57 PM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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To the OP and the theory of lower tension resos: I agree. I've been struggling with snare tuning for practically all of the 30 years I've been playing and in the past when I've thought my snare sound was missing something, I would automatically crank the snare side tighter, because that can loosen up over time and kill the sound.

But I've definitely been running into trouble over tightening and getting that thin and unsatisfying sound you describe, so lately (the past year or two) I've been more cognizant of over tightening the reso and will make sure that's not the case when troubleshooting a snare stubbornly out of its sweet spot. I'm lowering the tension of that head a lot more these days and getting much better and more consistent results.

No drum dial here, though. I may start with a Gatzen tuning but over the weeks that follow, I can get pretty far from that before I find something that knocks my socks off.
When I first got a Supra 402, I immediately started tightening the living daylights out of the reso head. No mercy. Tuned up to top head. Played it. Hated it. It was like the drum had no muscle and I couldn't figure it out. But I did eventually drop the reso a little, and that helped. It wasn't until I lowered the tension more (and i'm talking maybe a turn and a half above completely loose) that I got the sound that I've been wanting to hear.
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Old 08-15-2011, 06:04 PM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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Right. Essentially, I believe that when Ocheltree says "pitched way up," he simply means the fundamental pitch, not the head tension. From experimentation, the two ways are extremely different, and most tend to think he meant high head tension. That is where I disagree completely.
Fair enough.

Although I think there's a natural correlation between a higher pitch and higher head tension. There's no doubt that what is "pitched way up" to some, may be seen differently by others. I really wouldn't pay much attention to DD numbers though. They can be nothing more than speculation. We know Bonham certainly didn't use one....there was no such thing back then....which would mean neither Hinton or Ocheltree used one for his drums either. So any numbers you see bandied around drum forums haven't come from any "official" source, they are merely the result of someone else's "best guess."

At the end of the day, if it's the Bonham sound you're seeking I reckon you're better served ignoring DD numbers and using your own ear anyway.
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Old 08-15-2011, 06:16 PM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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At the end of the day, if it's the Bonham sound you're seeking I reckon you're better served ignoring DD numbers and using your own ear anyway.
You speak the truth!! I initially arrived at this tuning using my ears. I threw out the DD numbers because they tend to be a little more concrete and consistent than "pitched way up" or "pretty tight" haha. And my hope is that someone will tune their snare as I've theorized, and see what their ears think.
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Old 08-15-2011, 08:31 PM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

I agree, DD readings are deceiving, and "pitched way up there" is what kind of description??
In last few years, the way some drummers have tuned, anything over finger tight is "way up there".

I use tighter bottom heads, but they aren't cranked. My bass drums are 26, but they aren't cranked either. Just good sound, and good action.

The section on the DVD where J O goes around the drums with a mallet are pretty good indications of what the drums were probably at when Bonham used them. Mark Romans gets a convincing "Bonham" sound from the way they tuned them.

Notice also, when he's demonstrating putting the bass drum together and "getting a sound" (ha), it's definitely NOT anything near "precise" haha!

The SS on Bonham's 402 could be "tight", but with the Hazy Amb he used, you can only get it so tight before it bottoms out on the butt plate (yes, the dang thing is too low!).
The Hazy Amb seems a lot more "stretchy" to me than the no-collar version I use (TD suffix), but it also sounds a little deeper than the clear film of the no-collar.

Can't go by "perfect" on each lug either. He tuned it how he liked it (to sound on that day), and, there wasn't "tuning" back then like everyone obsesses over these days (ain't it fun!!).
Each lug was probably out from another one (on everything). It just sounded good for the way he heard it, and how he hit the drum.

I've gotten "that" sound (on my 402's, BB's etc...) with my SS at 83-85-ish (ends up there naturally--just checked it for another person) and the batter where it feels and sounds good.
But that works for how I hit the drum, Scorpio will hit it differently, so he got it with different tuning--it's just a crap shoot.

The Hazy Amb would probably be around 70-75 on the DD for me. Rim shots are a given haha!
The lug at 11:00 is a bit lower than the rest--which give it a nice ring that isn't too high pitched.
By "that" sound, I mean the basic Bonham, ringy type sound. If I play along to MMH, or one of the songs with the ringier sounding snare on it, it's pretty dang close.

I LOVE Peter Criss' snare sound from that era you're talking about ambientgreg!

That was the 10" deep snare, and any 10" deep snare I've played has that general sound already.
My 8x14 gets really close though--especially with a Black Dot on it.
Rocket Ride has an awesome snare sound, and SM from Love Gun is really great as well. I could never tell if it was still the 10" deep snare, or just his regular Pearl metal snare with slacker heads and wires. Best snare sounds he had on records were always the Ace songs IMO.
That whole "studio" side from Alive II is great sounding to me.

I always kinda got a kick from the snares being off on Cold Gin on the Alive! album.
That was a Slingerland snare (maybe a COB).
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Old 08-15-2011, 10:06 PM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

Sorry I don't have the link,but try youtube..Bonzoleums channel.This guy pretty much has the tuning of Bonzo's drums nailed down.He in an advocate of the reso head being pitched way up,and batter head tight but not too much,and 42 strand snare wires.His snare wires are Tiawan imports but sound great...check it out.

And the debate goes on.I wonder why no one ever asked Jason Bonham about "the tuning".I'm sure he has an accurate perspective on the issue.Carry on Bonhamites.

Steve B
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Old 08-15-2011, 10:19 PM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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But that works for how I hit the drum, Scorpio will hit it differently, so he got it with different tuning--it's just a crap shoot.
Nailed it. And kudos for the necessary rimshots. I wanted to say "hey we are all playing rimshots now aren't we?" but alas you beat me to it haha.

Also I found something interesting on the JO dvd. A little after the Bonham section, Mr. O tunes a 402. But there's a constant voice over so you cant really hear what he's doing. However the audio of him tuning is panned to one side and the voice over is panned the other way. Just adjust you're audio setting to only play the tuning and it's pretty interesting to hear him get that sound.
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Old 08-15-2011, 11:10 PM
samdrum samdrum is offline
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

Never have and never will use a drum dial...but i do have a Ludwig Supra and I have tuned it to a Bonham sound and I don't believe you are anywhere close to his sound if all you have the reso cranked is a turn over really loose. You would get zero rim shot presence with a reso that low. Plus, are you using a coated emperor and 42 strand snare wires? Makes a huge difference. Also, using the metal snare is a huge factor. You'll never reproduce that sound using a wood snare drum. A great video to check on YouTube is by a guy name Dan Zalac (groovedrumming). Great Bonham snare sound and he has a video you can down load for a few bucks that goes thru his entire reso and batter tuning of a Ludwig Supra.
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Old 08-15-2011, 11:25 PM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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Originally Posted by samdrum View Post
Never have and never will use a drum dial...but i do have a Ludwig Supra and I have tuned it to a Bonham sound and I don't believe you are anywhere close to his sound if all you have the reso cranked is a turn over really loose. You would get zero rim shot presence with a reso that low. Plus, are you using a coated emperor and 42 strand snare wires? Makes a huge difference. Also, using the metal snare is a huge factor. You'll never reproduce that sound using a wood snare drum. A great video to check on YouTube is by a guy name Dan Zalac (groovedrumming). Great Bonham snare sound and he has a video you can down load for a few bucks that goes thru his entire reso and batter tuning of a Ludwig Supra.
I've got the metal snare, plus the coated Emperor, plus the 42 strand snares. The rimshots bark like crazy, and it's also very sensitive. I never would have believed it before, but now that's the main way I tune my snare!
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Old 08-15-2011, 11:50 PM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

Also I've seen Dan Zalac's Videos. He is really great!!! I think he nails the Bonham bass drum sound in some of the more recent videos, and I love his toms!!!!
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Old 10-04-2011, 12:35 AM
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The Scorpio The Scorpio is offline
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

As a update on this thread, I've been playing with this style snare tuning (lower reso, 1 1/2 to 2 turns above wrinkle) for a little while now. I am still really loving it. The only time I really mess with it is when we are recording. I pitch the snare to the key of the song.

However the biggest difference came when I reinstalled the internal muffler on my supra. That really finalized my belief in my tuning theory. The muffler is just barely touching the head usually, and sometimes more or less according to my taste on that day.

So I'm gonna say that in addition to having the snare tuned as I mentioned, using the internal muffler sparingly is also very important.

Thoughts?

-Kyle
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Old 10-04-2011, 01:13 AM
planet_boom planet_boom is offline
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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Originally Posted by The Scorpio View Post
As a update on this thread, I've been playing with this style snare tuning (lower reso, 1 1/2 to 2 turns above wrinkle) for a little while now. I am still really loving it. The only time I really mess with it is when we are recording. I pitch the snare to the key of the song.

However the biggest difference came when I reinstalled the internal muffler on my supra. That really finalized my belief in my tuning theory. The muffler is just barely touching the head usually, and sometimes more or less according to my taste on that day.

So I'm gonna say that in addition to having the snare tuned as I mentioned, using the internal muffler sparingly is also very important.

Thoughts?

-Kyle
I would totally agree with the reso at 1 1/2 to 2 turns. I have been playing around with this tuning for a while with a good results. I find that when I start cranking the reso, and batter to some extent, I start to lose the crack for more of a pop. I have my batter head at 2 1/2 turns tops.

With regards to the internal muffler, my supra doesnt have one (as its a newer model, circa 2005) and I do find it rings like hell without any sort of dampening. I hate using moongel or any other kind of dampening product, but do find that a Emperor X can tame the ring enough.

Snares are 'just touching' as per the JO dvd.

Last edited by planet_boom; 10-04-2011 at 01:14 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 10-04-2011, 01:32 AM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

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Originally Posted by planet_boom View Post
I would totally agree with the reso at 1 1/2 to 2 turns. I have been playing around with this tuning for a while with a good results. I find that when I start cranking the reso, and batter to some extent, I start to lose the crack for more of a pop. I have my batter head at 2 1/2 turns tops.

With regards to the internal muffler, my supra doesnt have one (as its a newer model, circa 2005) and I do find it rings like hell without any sort of dampening. I hate using moongel or any other kind of dampening product, but do find that a Emperor X can tame the ring enough.

Snares are 'just touching' as per the JO dvd.
+1 for the Emperor X. I am in a constant state of going back and forth between that and the regular Emperor. Both sound really awesome to me. I will say that the internal muffler with the regular Emperor gives more of a vintage sound, because the internal muffler dampens the outside edge of the head. The X has a more modern sound to my ears.

Alas, maybe I should just get another supra and have a Emp on one and and X on the other lol
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Old 03-04-2012, 11:14 PM
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Default Re: John Bonham Snare Drum Tuning Theory

I'm a Bonham fan, have a 70's Bonham kit and an old 70's supra that I have outfitted with a coated emp, ss hazy ambassador and Gretch 42 strand snare wires. I think I have that sound nailed very close. For me, in order to get that Bonham snare sound, the reso head has to be tight. If not, I don't get the snare response, the "pop", power and projection to match the intensity of the other drums in the kit. I have the batter head tuned medium tight. Since I quantify my tuning through using a pitchpipe to match the pitch at each lug point on the heads, rather than using a drum dial, I can tell you what notes I ended up with based on the notes taken from the Ocheltree video when he tapped the top and bottom heads on the snare with a mallet, plus by soloing Bonham's snare drum on various recordings. It's easy to hear what pitch the heads are tuned to on the Ocheltree video and you can also hear the pitch pretty well when Bonzo himself disengages the snares and plays the snare with his hands.

On the Ocheltree video and in alot of recordings I listened to with Bonhams snare being played without the snares on, it seems that the batter head is tuned to an A. It feels really good at that tension as well. The ss head seems to be at a G, which is lower in pitch than an A, but is very tight for a resonant head. It may be that because of the thinness on the reso head, the "G" is pitched way above the batter "A", not below it. If I try to tune the snare in any different combination of tensions, it doesn't sound nearly as powerful, "poppy" or Bonham-like. Judging from the way he tuned the rest of the kit, I would take an educated guess and say that he used the same type of thinking with his snare, having a tight reso head to get that roundness, projection and "pop" that you just can't get from a looser ss head. That's what my research has gotten me too and I feel very comfortable with the sound of my kit being almost spot on with the Oceltree video kit's sound, with my snare drum sounding a little closer to Bonham's IMO.
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